State Church Exit

The traditional State Church is on its way out in Europe, according to the president of the Baptist Union of Sweden.

Dr. Gunnar Westin, former dean of the theological faculty at Uppsala University, made the statement recently on a visit to Washington, D. C.

“A strong doctrine of Church and State separation is developing throughout Europe,” he said.

Dr. Westin, a member of the Baptist World Alliance executive committee, came to the United States last fall for a four-month lecture engagement at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky. He also has lectured at other theological schools and will conclude the visit with lectures at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, the first week in April.

The Baptist leader said the State Church system which developed in Europe immediately following the Reformation was based on the theory that “government is responsible for the souls of its people.” It also grew out of the doctrine that church unity is essential to political unity, he said.

The Lutheran Church is the State Church of Sweden and other Scandinavian countries.

Study In Contrast

The United States has delivered $700,000,000 worth of equipment to the new German army, including 1,100 tanks and 1,000 military planes.

The Pocket Testament League is sending 50,000 copies of the Gospel of John.

‘Pact With Devil’

Communist newspapers in Germany’s East Zone accused Berlin’s Bishop Otto Dibelius of “entering into a pact with the devil” when he recently co-signed with the West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer as agreement providing for establishment of chaplaincy services for the new West German Army.

The pact will go into effect after approval by the synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany and the Bundestag, lower house of the West German Parliament.

Bishop Dibelius is chairman of the EKD Council. Roman Catholic chaplaincy for the new army has already been established under a Vatican-West German concordat.

The Soviet Zone press denounced the arrangement as an “un-Christian misuse of the Church” and “provocation of peace-loving forces within and outside the church.” It said that Christianity must not be “misused as a moral cement for a NATO army” and warned East German members of the EKD Synod that they could not “in good conscience” approve the treaty.

Ruling In Italy

Italy’s new Constitutional Court has ruled that public religious gatherings may be held without previous notice to the police.

The decision marked a victory for evangelical groups who had long sought to have the police regulation set aside.

In its ruling the court declared unconstitutional an article of the 1931 Public Security Law specifying that the police must be notified three days in advance of any religious assembly outside a recognized house of worship.

Some Italian and Protestant missionaries have run into trouble in recent years over interpretations of the law.

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